Topaz Restaurant

A toast to Champagne, the one and only

For hundreds of years, shadowy liquor barons have been looking for ways to pass off fake versions of a Blanc de Noir or a Rosé. But the purists, the generational locals from the vineyards of northeastern France, had always to stay ahead of the imposters, and a series of laws and regulations have followed those trying to impersonate the delicate, bubbling tastes of actual Champagne, from Champagne.

Under European regulations, anything labelled Champagne must have been produced from grapes grown in a select few regions using specific vineyard practices, including the crucial second fermentation of the brew that creates the cork-popping carbonation. And those regulations are now set to be implemented here, with Cambodia having awarded geographical indicator status (G.I.) to Champagne at a ceremony attended by Commerce Minister Pann Sorasak at the French Embassy in May.

Champagne becomes the first foreign product to receive the recognition here in Cambodia and follows from Kampot Pepper and Kampong Speu Palm Sugar being granted the status globally, which protects the brand by prohibiting others from using the name. It means that if you are drinking Champagne in Cambodia, you can be sure that it is the real thing, from the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site in northeastern France.

Commerce Minister Sorasak said at the ceremony that protecting intellectual property had become a priority for his team, and that it would lead to the import of more quality goods from around the world. “We hope to see more products from France and other foreign countries registering in Cambodia. Champagne will help us improve business ties with France,” he said.

Of course, the Champagne is always on ice at Topaz and waiting to be popped.